In 2010 a detailed agricultural census took place in the region of Cognac. The results have now been published and the exact structure of the vineyards of the region are known.
Conducted by the Direction Régionale de l’Alimentation and the Agriculture et de la Forêt (DRAAF), the census reports that there is currently a total of 75,153 hectares of vineyards distributed in both the departments of the Charente and the Charente Maritime.
Of this, 38,912 hectares are located in the Charente and 36,218 in the Charente Maritime. However, there are more individual farms and producers in the latter – with a total of 2602 as opposed to the Charente’s 2056.
It seems little has changed in the aspect of total vine area over the past decade, with only 400 hectares of vines being lost. However, when you look back over the past thirty years this gives a more worrying trend of the disappearance of 20,000 hectares.
But when you look at how each individual area has changed in 10 years then this appears far less stable. The growing area of Grande Champagne now boasts 1000 extra hectares, whereas Fins Bois has lost 1800 hectares. It’s interesting that the Fins Bois terroir consists of 42 per cent of the total AOC cognac growing region.
Average size of cognac farm is 16 hectares
The average size of a farm is also up – by 4 hectares to an average size of 16 hectares (19 in the Charente). In the most prestigious growing areas of Grande Champagne and Borderies the vines are more highly concentrated – accounting for 23 per cent of the complete available growing area.
One of the key points that the study has discovered is the increase in companies managing vineyards. This has now risen to 43 per cent of the total, and the reason is clear, according to Philippe Boujut – Vice President of the Chambre d’Agriculture de la Charente. And that is the aging population of farmers in general. Whilst the average age has only gone up by 2 years in the past decade – from 49 to 51 years – this means that in another 10 years’ time most of these will have retired. 44 per cent of these farmers say that they don’t know who will take over when this happen, and 15 per cent of them think that their operations will disappear altogether. And this is when the bigger houses and companies step in to take over.